Monday, May 28, 2007

Granny left holding the baby

Anne and I spent Saturday night in a hotel in Saffron Walden - the first night Anne's been away from ThingOne in the more-than-sixteen-months since ThingOne was born. My mum baby sat.

Anne was sad to leave, but once away we had a great time. We ambled around Saffron Walden in the afternoon, Anne had a bath, and then we drank some wine, ate some nuts and watched Doctor Who. We then went for a drink and a meal.

This was very relaxing. We've left ThingOne with one or other Granny before for an afternoon or evening before, but never both. The real coup was the next morning though, where we stayed in bed until after 8am! I've been quite ill since returning from DC and I think my body gave out. I couldn't get out of bed at all! Eventually, by 9am I managed to get down for breakfast, but after that I went back to the room and fell asleep again. Not like me at all!

The weather was terrible on the Sunday, so we didn't get to do much, but we went for a pub lunch and got home around 2.30pm. We expected my mum and ThingOne to be at home, but they were out - ThingOne having been banging on the door with her shoes all morning with cabin fever. Poor Granny having to take her out in the rain! At least ThingOne has a rain cover on her pushchair - Granny doesn't!

He's a two minute video of ThingOne watching In The Night Garden last night. It's a new show from the makers of ThingOne's other favourite, The Teletubbies. She's copying the characters jumping (or at least she thinks she is - she never leaves the floor) and then dancing along with them. Why would we ever want to leave her for a day? (A: To sleep.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hey you sass that hoopy ThingOne?

It turns out ThingOne's a frood who really knows where the towels are.

In one of her daily reports from Cambridge, Anne tells me that ThingOne's coming on leaps and bounds in my absence (marred only marginally by running into door frames and vomiting).

Anne and I (especially I) often forget to take our towels off the banister when we take a shower, and end up either calling for the other to bring it in, or slopping across the bathroom and landing to get it and leaving a wet trail.

Having made this mistake with me away, Anne didn't have the former option, and thought she may be able to avoid the latter by calling for ThingOne.

"ThingOne, can you fetch my TOWEL please?"

ThingOne thought for a bit and then went to get one of the towels from the bannister and brought it to Anne. The idiot - it was the WRONG towel.

"That's DADDY's towel. Can you get MUMMY's towel please ThingOne?"

ThingOne thought, and then fetched Anne's towel.

What a star! This is a whole new level for her, and means we're that bit closer to the day ThingOne can make me a gin and tonic, ready for when I get home from work.

I've been away over a week now, and won't be home until Saturday. I'm missing ThingOne a lot (and Anne of course), but from the look of the photos below, ThingOne seems to be getting on just fine without me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Taxing taxi-meter cabs

I am getting to the end of my tether with the cabs here in Virginia (I know I keep saying I'm Washington, but in fact I'm staying and working just outside DC - I'm lying).

The taxi drivers are terrible!

The hotel keeps randomly cancelling or not booking my morning cabs for a start. This led to them having to get one at short notice for a colleague and I one morning last week. The cab driver was annoyed at having been told to drive to the hotel at short notice and shouted at us for most of the journey, saying he wouldn't pick us up again. I despair! (He didn't get a tip.)

Also, few of the drivers know their way around. They ask you what route you want to take to your destination (I don't know - I've never driven here!). My journey to work should cost $20, and twice it's come to $35 as the driver went the wrong way. It was the same driver both times, and the second time I told him there must be a quicker way since it cost a lot less when other drivers took me. He asked what way that was, and I said it was via the freeway, but I didn't know what road it was. He then went the same way as the last time (the HIGHway, it turns out, not the FREEway) and when I complained about the cost he complained that I hadn't told him which way to go! (He even had a GPS system in his cab but ignored it.)

I've now asked at work and know the freeway number and exit number for my office. Good planning Stephen!

Though not good enough as it turns out. Tonight the cabbie didn't know the way to Mclean, the suburb I'm staying in. In fact he refused to even pull away from my office until I'd tried to set up his Bluetooth headset on his mobile phone. When we did get moving we ended up miles out of the way and I could soon see he didn't know where the hell he was. I turned my GPSr on, and I knew there was a geocache near the hotel, so I could then tell which direction we should be going in. I ended up map-reading and directing the driver to the hotel. I was clearly annoyed, and I ended up telling him to ignore the meter (near $40 by this time) and that I'd pay no more than $20 (he should have paid me).

I was thinking I was just having bad luck, but the people I'm working with acknowledge that the cabs are terrible (especially the Brits who live here and know what UK cabs are like) and you have to know exactly which route you want to take.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mr KT Goes to Washington

It's been mostly a working weekend. I've been working in my hotel suite, but I should probably have gone into the office as the internet connection is frustratingly slow, and I've been using some quite large files. It's more relaxed here though and I can work in just my pants (if I wanted to - I don't: I like to work in a suit and tie).

I did get out to see a bit of DC though on Saturday afternoon. I got off the Metro near the White House and wandered around. I'd loaded my GPS receiver and PDA with all the local Geocaches, so my wandering was driven by that. I meandered around looking for caches. Because I was in an area where hidden boxes of treasures would probably be eyes with more than a little suspicion the caches were all "virtual" caches. That is, instead of finding an object like you would with a normal cache, the coordinates lead you to an interesting place or monument, and you have to answer a couple of questions to prove to the cache owner that you've found it. These aren't as exciting as finding real caches, but was a good way to see the National Mall (to which I've been before) since it lead me to interesting places some of which are off the beaten track.

I went to the Natural History Museum. It was quite good. I first went to the mammal section and that made me miss ThingOne. Every animal I saw I imagined ThingOne getting excited and doing the noise of the animal (or sometimes doing a weird sound which she somehow imagines is the noise the animal makes; for example giraffes seem to make the same noise as elephants).

I then went into the dinosaur section. This made me miss Anne, since I remembered how a few years ago, on a day off from a conference in Washington, she made a bee-line for the dinosaurs in this very Natural History Museum, when a proper girl would have hit the shops, and bought shoes.

I caught a 3D IMAX movie on sharks which was pretty impressive. The intro was a very sincere rant about how mankind is destroying the habitat of sea creatures and driving many species to extinction. As if to drive home just how screwed the oceans are the whole audience was cackling throughout this intro and trying to touch the on-screen jelly fish.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Having lunch with ThingOne

I'm currently having a web chat with Anne and ThingOne. It's so cool. I feel like I'm at the table with them.

Al(l) Gore in Washington

I'm away in Washington with work at the moment. I flew out last Tuesday, and won't be home until next Saturday.

I'm sad to be away from Anne and ThingOne, especially as I hear today that ThingOne's not well. I hate to be away from her when she's like this. I hope Anne manages to get some rest and that ThingOne's better soon.

Anyway, what can I do while I'm away on my own except watch movies in my (little) free time. However, I don't want to watch movies that Anne would want to see. This doesn't leave me with a lot of choice, since Anne likes movies too, hence why I married her.

Anne doesn't like horrors though, so I've watched a few of those. On Wednesday morning I woke at 2.30am local time and couldn't get back to sleep. By 4am I was working in my room. At 6am I was ironing in just my pants watching torture-horror Hostel on my laptop. It was an odd experience in my hazy jet-lagged state. I watched the rest of it that evening, and I have to say I was sickened. I actually felt ill watching it. Unlike a lot of horrors I enjoy it didn't seem particularly entertaining, but was just extremely nasty. And yet I watched it to the end. And am curious about the sequel.

On Friday evening I got a cab to the mall near my hotel. I'd been told this was a great mall, and the one to go to in the area. I got there and was instantly struck by how little I like shopping.

I wasn't there for the shops though. I was there for the cinema. I queued up unsure if I was going to see Spider Man 3 or zombie movie 28 Weeks Later. When I got to the counter I plumped for the latter. I had 90 minutes to kill in the mall before the film so I had some food and went to Pottery Barn Kids and bought some presents for ThingOne. I guess it's hard not to want to spoil your child when you're away from home.

The zombie film was certainly more entertaining than Hostel, but I was still a little sickened. Why do I watch these things when I'm squeamish?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Bank holiday Meldrew

Today Anne saw a car parked outside our house with three people in and vaguely wondered what the people were up to. They'd been there for some time, and after a while the car drove a few metres forward and stopped again.

All curiosity was obliterated and rage took over when the person in the back seat threw a cigarette butt out of the window and on to the grass.

Not wanting to embarrass Anne unduly, I asked if she'd mind if I went out and gave it back to them. Usually she'd rather I didn't make a scene, but was up for a laugh today (and quite annoyed) so she told me to go for it.

I went out, picked up the fag end (and another that was there that the woman in the back seat had clearly thrown out) and passed them through the window, asking them to take their litter with them. They were quite shocked. The woman in the back apologised, but the woman in the front just kept saying that she'd not done anything wrong (I never said she had - it was the woman in the back who'd chucked the butts).

I saw the woman in the front put the butts into their ashtray. I noticed the ashtray was PACKED with fag ends. They'd clearly been parking outside a lot of people's houses. I suppose, in their defence, at least the only litter when their car is full of crap. Some defence!

Feeling I had the upper hand I then asked what they were up to. They quickly showed me some papers and told me it was a marketing exercise (I didn't really care - I just wanted to embarrass them further). I stood behind the car for a bit, pretending to be memorising their number plate (I couldn't even tell you what type of car they were in). As I went back into the house they drove off.

One-nil to me (until we find our windows smashed).

I can feel some of my friends cringing as they read this.

Bank-holiday fun

Tomorrow I'm going to the US on business for a couple of weeks, which makes me sad. Partly this is because it'll be hard work for me, but largely it's because I've not left ThingOne for that long before, and to leave her at this stage when she's so lovely and learning so much will be hard. It'll be hard for Anne too who won't get a break for almost a fortnight.

This weekend though we had Anne's sister Kerry and her man Mark down for a visit. They liked seeing their niece, who was on good form, and ThingOne enjoyed seeing them and getting so much attention. I got to spend a lot of time watching ThingOne learning new things and playing, to get my fix to see me through while I'm away.

ThingOne did a lot of showing off and being purposefully cute, and watered our patio with her little watering can. She had a great time in a local park on the swings and slide, and being swung around by us.

Kerry has taught ThingOne to pull up our shirts so she can poke us in the belly-button. Quite fun, but it could get annoying - especially in public. I'm going to have to start doing sit ups again!

Her first word was "murder"

Sounds like a twisted Agatha Christie novel title doesn't it? It's not true that ThingOne's forst word was "murder". She's been saying simple words for a while, but she's not really said clear two-syllable words before (other than "dada", which isn't a real word). Before this week ThingOne has called both me and Anne (and most other people) Dada. Only this week has she started to realise that one of us is Dada and one is Mama. However, she's often not sure which is which.

She'll sit and point at one of us and say Mama and Dada until she gets it right and gets a reaction from us (we clap when she calls us the right name). But she gets a bit tied up and called us Mada, which comes out just like Murder (or rather, like Taggart saying Murder in a thick Scotch accent).

Let's hope this isn't a portent.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May tricks: reloaded

Having moved the blog onto a new server (and finally properly using our domain, rather than just redirecting it to our web site) I've tidied up the blog a bit. Links down the side have been tidied up, and I've changed colours just for the hell of it. I'm not particularly good with colours, so I suspect once Anne sees it she'll want me to rework it.

I resisted the urge to fully widgetize the site, but there are a few things I'm interested in trying out. We'll see if I have the time.

And I got through a whole post without mentioning ThingOne once.